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Jon Jones An Early Favorite Heading Into Title Fight With Shogun

Apparently the gambling gods believe that Jon Jones is the next big thing.

The UFC officially announced this week that rising light heavyweight star Jon “Bones” Jones will replace training partner Rashad Evans in the main event of UFC 128. Jones will challenge reigning UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, following Evans’ withdrawal due to injury, and the major sports betting outlets have pegged the challenger as a sizable favorite.

The 23-year-old native New Yorker, who ended the undefeated streak of Ryan Bader via second round stoppage at UFC 126 last Saturday, is already pegged as a 2-1 favorite by

“My goal is to be considered the best light heavyweight fighter in the world,” said Jones, who is currently listed as a -230 favorite. “I feel as if it’s my time. My confidence is already high, I’m already in shape and I have six weeks to make myself even better. I can’t wait for this opportunity.”

Eager to defend his crown for the first time, Rua sees similarities in Evans and Jones, who are training partners. Given Jones’ strong wrestling background and unorthodox striking, the 29-year-old champion plans on making a few adjustments, but overall, anticipates a similar fight.

“I’ve been training hard for a fight on this date and I was prepared to fight Rashad,” said Rua, who is a +180 underdog. “I face this new challenge as motivation to train even harder. I’m a fighter and I don’t pick opponents. I’ll be ready for Jon Jones.”

UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones takes place in just under six weeks on March 19, 2011 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.